Time for a Winter Extension
COVID has more than disrupted education; it’s forced us to reckon with educational traditions.
As Omicron gained momentum, as things got decidedly scarier and more difficult across the globe, the question of schools was once again on the table.
- Would we go back to remote learning?
- How long do we wait to determine whether our return from winter break will be in-person, or remote?
- How many teachers are out sick? How many substitutes are available?
- If we go remote, how long is long enough?
The anxiety was palpable. I had teacher friends across the US, and around the globe, telling me they were told to quarantine, to test, to go remote, to stay in-person, to prepare for the worst, to not worry at all . . .
It felt like a nightmare in some ways. It also felt like another day/year in education — after two years of COVID, I hardly feel anything is predictable in the world of education anymore, or beyond it. That being said, I do feel that by January’s end, as COVID cases had declined, I had had an epiphany: what if we did things differently next year?
COVID is not going away. From the experts, news, and the known ebbs and flows of previous pandemics, there will be resurgences, spikes, and new variants — and the predicted timetable for another surge and variant is winter. So, why not change the calendar?
What if we extended winter break, the defined mid-year break in schools across the US and many other countries around the globe, from mid-December through the beginning of January, to all of December to mid-January? What if we extended it from two weeks to four or six weeks?
What if we modified our calendar?
Before the idea is scoffed at or tossed out, there is precedence. Schools across the United States have previously altered their calendar to accommodate state-testing. School calendars are — in fact — rooted in social and community-need as the current 9-month calendar has its roots in accommodating weather patterns that necessarily impacted social and community movement. The idea or proposition to change the calendar is not that far-fetched.